Using social media to reach young abusers

The battle lines have been drawn. Soon, parents, teachers, students and even national service commanders will be leading the fight against youth drug abuse.

They will be armed with enhanced resource toolkits to detect abuse and get more information on the subject. The fight will be expected to also take place online.

These were some of the recommendations by the Task Force on Youths and Drugs. Its findings revealed more people below the age of 30 are getting entangled in drug abuse.

The task force - spearheaded by Second Minister for Home Affairs Masagos Zulkifli and Minister of State for Education Sim Ann - comprises multi-agency representatives and other stakeholders.

Getting the message across requires the use of relevant platforms, said task force member David Hoe (inset), 27.

The National University of Singapore undergraduate told The New Paper: "We're targeting the youth using online platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, given that teens today are already so connected on the Internet.

"Posters and e-mail may be redundant today, so that's why we need to be able to 'speak' to them in a language they understand."


Expanding on previous anti-drug initiatives, the authorities also seek to reach out to those in polytechnics, ITEs and universities.

The new urgency arises from the changing profiles of today's abusers. They no longer come from dysfunctional families.

In particular, those who abuse cannabis tend to perform well in school and come from middle-income families. They usually form clusters and introduce cannabis to each other.

Ms Sim said of the findings: "Parents and schools are important partners in our efforts to protect the young against drugs. With their support, we will do all we can to reach out to the youth and help them understand that drugs are addictive and harmful, and that there are no 'soft' drugs."

Likewise, the rehabilitation process will differ slightly to include "differentiated and targeted" programmes to deal with low-risk and high-risk abusers.

These include the Youth Enhanced Supervision Scheme for low-risk abusers, the Community Rehabilitation Centre for medium-risk abusers and the Drug Rehabilitation Centre for high-risk abusers.

National Addictions Management Service will also be involved in a new programme to manage youth abusers who have taken drugs, but tested negative in urine tests.

This article was first published on June 27, 2015.
Get The New Paper for more stories.